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Pittsburgh Roots: Plum’s Alex Kirilloff Looking for Traction with Twins

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Alex Kirilloff

Alex Kirilloff has had high expectations since he entered professional baseball in 2016.

Kirilloff was selected in the first round with the 15th overall pick by the Minnesota Twins after starring at Plum High School. Three years later, he was rated as the ninth-best prospect in baseball going into spring training by MLB.com.

However, the first baseman/outfielder is still trying to gain traction in the major leagues. Injuries throughout his professional career have dogged the 26-year-old left-handed hitter.

Kirilloff underwent Tommy John ligament reconstruction surgery on his left elbow in 2017. He has had his right wrist operated on twice since reaching the major leagues in 2020 – to repair a torn ligament in 2021 and to shorten the ulnar bone the following year.

At the end of last season, Kirilloff underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder.

Kirilloff has shown signs of being an above-average major-leaguer during his five years with the Twins. However, he hasn’t been able to put everything together consistently and is a career .248/.309/.412 hitter with 27 home runs in 249 games.

This season, he is hitting just .201/.270/.384 with five homers in 57 games.

“I’m kind of still getting acclimated and getting experience at the major-league level,” the 26-year-old Kirilloff said last weekend when the Twins visited the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. “Staying healthy for a full season is my main goal. I’m kind of at the point now where I’m just doing whatever the team needs me to do in whatever roles I fit into, whether that’s playing every day or platooning.

“For me, it’s about showing up every day and preparing, being ready for whatever that role is and doing my best. I’m still learning, still growing, taking care of my body. Just trying to stay on the field is the biggest thing for me right now.”

Twins manager Rocco Baldelli has the enviable problem of having more good hitters than lineup spots. Thus, Kirilloff hasn’t had a set position this season, making 20 starts in left field, 12 at designated hitter, 11 at first base and four in right field.

“I’m definitely confident in my ability,” Kirilloff said. “I know we have a great team and a great group of guys here, too. A lot of talented players on this roster. It’s just exciting to be a part of, to show up and enjoy what you’re doing every day and give it your all.”

Baldelli has been the Twins’ manager since Kirilloff arrived in the major leagues and is a big fan. He believes Kirilloff has the chance to be an impact player – if his injury luck changes.

“From day one, he kind of stands out from being a talent, especially offensively, who has a knack for finding the barrel, hitting balls hard,” Baldelli said. “He’s good, he’s a good hitter. Our game is also a game of timing and getting consistent repetitions. He’s had the challenge of trying to be productive without getting consistent play because of health. He’s done a good job of managing it overall.

“I can’t say just because of the good job he’s done of it that it’s simple, He just keeps continuing to do his part, which he’s done. He just needs to keep taking care of his body in any way shape or form that he can, and he’ll improve and make adjustments and keep going. He’s a guy we believe in.”

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